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HSBC issues warning after widow loses £100,000 to cruel scam | Personal finance | Finance

Scams are unfortunately very common, with people losing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, this was the case of a woman who unwittingly found herself a target, after a difficult period in her life.

HSBC has shared the story of Marjorie – not her real name – who decided to use a dating site two years after the death of her husband.

She selected a website aimed at the over-50s, with a focus on those who were widowed.

Soon she hit it off with a man who said his name was Gerald, a supposed businessman who had his own electricity business in Milton Keynes.

Their conversations quickly moved to WhatsApp and they sometimes talked on the phone.

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However, Gerald said he was in Dubai, working on a major mall construction project.

As a result, the couple never got to meet face to face, but soon enough their conversation took a completely different turn.

Marjorie explained, “Towards the end of February, he started mentioning that he was having cash flow problems with his business. He said he needed a short-term loan to complete the construction project.

Fully believing that Gerald was a businessman, when he explained that he would pay her back when the project ended in April, she was comfortable.

Further legitimacy seemed to be added when Marjorie received a copy of Gerald’s passport and shipping documents.

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He even sent a link to a website showing his business as Gerald Symonds Electrical.

Marjorie added: “He also sent an image of a check for £2million. This was due to him at the end of the project.

Convinced that Gerald needed help, Marjorie began by making payments from an account she held, transferring £54,000 in total.

She then moved to her HSBC UK account, transferring £42,000 as the final amount to help Gerald with his project in Dubai.

He specifically told her that if the bank asked her what the payment was for, she should say it was for construction work on her house.

Since Marjorie had actually had work done around the same time, she didn’t feel uncomfortable using that excuse.

As expected, HSBC UK staff asked him what the transfer was for – but accepted his well-prepared explanation.

Soon Gerald was asking for more money to cover the health and safety inspections needed to supposedly shut down the project.

But when Marjorie tried to make another substantial payment, her local branch reported the matter to the police.

It was only then that it emerged that Gerald Symonds was a false identity. Majorie had, in fact, conversed with scammers.

Unfortunately, she had been the victim of what is known as a romance scam – the prevalence of which was unfortunately increasing.

These are victims targeted under the guise of developing an online romantic relationship, with the fraudster often claiming to be outside the UK on business or travelling.

Once a report is made, the scammer then starts asking for money.

Sometimes it can be covering the cost of traveling to the UK, but in other cases it can play on emotions, such as having to pay for an operation for a supposedly ill relative.

Devastated Marjorie ended up losing £96,000 to the vicious scam, where she was left out and mourning the end of a relationship that was never genuine in the first place.

Criminals create fake profiles on websites, apps and social media targeting those looking for love.

As a result, HSBC says it’s always important to be on your guard and never transfer money to someone you haven’t met.

Those who believe they have been the victim of a romance scam can call HSBC using the number on the back of their credit or debit card.

Individuals can also report the matter to the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service, Action Fraud.